3 Strong Performers on a Down Dow Day

The weekend is a time for investors to rest, but it's also prime time for politicians to state their case. With everyone focused on the fiscal cliff, rhetoric was at an all-time high, making it look like the two sides of the budget debate are light-years apart. Combine that with some downbeat economic news on the factory front, and you get a down day that not even positive news from Asia and Europe could overcome. The Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI  ) finished down about 60 points.

A few stocks did, however, overcome the Monday blues. Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) rose three-quarters of a percent as shareholders prepare for the company's analyst day on Friday. With the company having turned things around so convincingly in 2012, it'll be up to CEO John Chambers to convince analysts that Cisco has the right mix of products, services, and capital allocation to make investors happy.

Pharma giants Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) also weighed in with gains of about a third of a percent each. Merck made a splash with its Alzheimer's disease treatment, MK-8931, which entered a phase 2 trial to evaluate safety and effectiveness. Rival Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY  ) has a couple of drugs in its pipeline to treat the disease, including the more advanced solanezumab, but with some disappointments in that drug's phase 3 trials, Merck could become a leader in the fast-growing niche quickly. As for Pfizer, the company said it would lay off some U.S.-based sales representatives. As drugs such as Lipitor go over the patent cliff, they no longer call for sales reps to promote them. But in the long run, Pfizer may need those reps back if its future blockbusters are as successful as its past hits.

Dealing with two cliffs
Pharma stocks have to deal with both the fiscal cliff and their patent cliffs. Yet the top drug companies have fought that battle for decades. To learn more about how Merck has been handling drugs going off-patent, as well as whether Merck's stock is a buy, grab your copy of our brand-new premium research report today. Our senior biotech analyst Brian Orelli, Ph.D., walks you through both the opportunities and threats facing Merck, and the report comes with a full 12 months of updates. Claim your copy now by clicking here.


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